When Judie’s husband Paul lost his job as a Civil Engineer during the Great Recession, all the air was let out of the family’s financial balloon. A one-income family with two teen children, Paul and Judie quickly burned through their savings while looking in vain for work in his field.
Judie took a job as an insurance biller just to have some money coming in, but it wasn’t enough to keep their home. Being homeless was beyond the family’s wildest imagination, even just a year before when they had felt so secure. They found themselves relying on the goodness of friends, who offered them limited spaces in their own homes.
It became necessary for Paul to live in one place with his son, and Judie to live separately with their daughter for months at a time. As a mother, Judie reports that these were the toughest times of all. The family finally got a break when their Church found them a place they could rent together.
Still, there wasn’t enough money to cover both rent and food. After more than a year of refusing help, the family finally gave in and visited a local food pantry supplied by Second Harvest Food Bank. The food they received helped to sustain their hope, keep their family together, and get them through the tough time.
Today, Paul is working again as an engineer, and Judie has found a job she loves as well. Both children are thriving and on their way to success, and things are looking up. A great testament to what is possible when a community cares enough to provide the basics for regular people who are struggling to make life work. This story is repeated thousands of times every day, in different ways, across Central Florida.